Cox Paving Company L.P.
Tires are one of the largest and most problematic items that end up in landfills across the country. They take up valuable space and help form pockets that trap methane, which can easily burst into long-lasting polluting fires. Cox Paving Company L.P., out of Blanco, Texas (north of San Antonio), is an industry leader in the production of asphalt rubber pavement, a partial solution to this problem. Asphalt rubber pavement utilizes recycled tires and over the last 30 years has recycled almost 21 million tires that would have ended up in a landfill or tire pile.
The process is fairly simple: Cox Paving purchases rubber from used tires that has been crushed to the consistency of ground coffee, and then mixes the reclaimed rubber with hot asphalt oil. The resulting mixture is not only good for the environment, but actually produces surface roads that are safer, quieter, longer-lasting and require less maintenance over time than concrete or conventional asphalt, which makes them a more economic and environmental investment in the long term.
From Waste to Want
Cox Paving was founded by Howard Cox, who is still the president of the company, in the mid-’60s, and was one of the first companies in the United States to champion the advantages of blending rubber crumb into asphalt. The company started out as a small family business dedicated to the production of high-quality road surfaces, but 19 years later in 1984 the company’s focus changed from conventional asphalt paving to the area of hot asphalt rubber paving.
Today, the company employs 25 full-time people to produce asphalt rubber and perform sealcoat operations. Cox has worked on highway projects all over the United States, but focuses primarily on projects in Texas. Howard’s son Sidney Cox is the company’s general manager, and he details why the company focus changed to asphalt rubber: “We’ve always been dedicated to producing the highest quality product out there, and once we realized the quality and benefits of using asphalt rubber, it only made sense for us to start using it.”
There’s no one better qualified to extol the benefits of asphalt rubber, as Sidney is a former two-term president of the Rubber Pavements Association (RPA), an organization dedicated to the understanding of greater usage of high-quality, cost-effective asphalt pavements containing recycled scrap tire rubber.
Examples of the benefits of asphalt rubber are many. One of the biggest complaints from homeowners who live near highways is the noise pollution from vehicular traffic. It’s not the vehicles making all the noise, however; it’s the concrete pavement coming into contact with the rubber tires. Studies done by the Arizona Department of Transportation show that asphalt rubber roads have decreased decibel levels in Phoenix by 10 decibels, which translates roughly into a 90-percent reduction in noise level. Decreased noise levels also reduce the need for unsightly and expensive sound barriers.
One of the most surprising statistics about asphalt rubber is that it appears to be safer than conventional asphalt. Because of the textured surface of an asphalt rubber roadway, especially if done as a permeable friction course, water can’t pool during rainstorms like it does on concrete pavement and surface water drains down through the road immediately, giving drivers increased visibility and drastically lowering the risk of hydroplaning.
A study was conducted by the Asphalt Institute on a two-mile stretch of I-35 in San Antonio paved using a permeable friction course (PFC) with Cox Paving asphalt rubber. Included in the study was a comparison of police reports from the year prior to the project and the year after the project. The reports showed that overall accidents decreased from 85 to 48 and wet weather accidents decreased from 39 to 19, all while wet weather days had increased by 37. Given the success of this project, when the Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT) needed a quick-draining surface for the paving of Highway 281 over the Olmos Basin, an environmentally sensitive flood control area in San Antonio, the choice was made to go with Cox Paving asphalt rubber, which resulted in another successful project. Other roadways that have benefited from Cox Paving’s product in recent years include the Transmountain Highway in El Paso, Highway 290 near Houston, portions of I-10 and I-20 across Texas, and various other roads throughout Texas and beyond.
Laying Down Further Roads to Success
Because of Cox’s expertise in the production and application of asphalt rubber anywhere from residential areas to airport runways, and all the highways between, Howard wisely decided to expand the company’s line of products and services. In 1996 he launched D & H Equipment as a subsidiary of Cox. D & H is run by Sidney’s brother Andy Cox and specializes in the manufacturing of asphalt rubber blenders, reaction tanks and other asphalt equipment built to customers’ specifications.
The rapidly growing firm has sold equipment all over the world as more and more countries learn of the benefits of integrating asphalt rubber into projects. “The biggest challenge we have right now is educating state and federal agencies about asphalt rubber. It does cost slightly more up front, but it proves to be far more economical over the long run, because it’s much more durable than conventional concrete or any other type of asphalt,” notes Sidney.
With studies proving that asphalt rubber roads are safer, quieter, and longer-lasting than any other road surface on the market, Cox Paving Company L.P. has established a premiere service that will continue to propel the company as both a premiere subcontractor and supplier in its expanding niche.
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